Wiper blades are vital, especially in inclement weather. Over time it’s common for the rubber part of wiper blades to harden. Not only does this cause them to be less efficient, but it can also cause damage to your windshield if left untreated. So, let’s talk about what you can do to help.
Here’s how to soften your wiper blades:
- Park your car under a roof
- Lift up the wiper blades and face them toward you
- Check for damage to the blades
- Wipe down the blade with vinegar
- Follow up with water
- Dry the rubber
- Add petroleum jelly to the blades
- Let it dry for at least 15 minutes
- Put the wiper blades back down and use them
Let’s take a closer look at these steps and go over some important details to help you get your wiper blades soft again.
1. Park Your Car Under a Roof
The first and most important step is to get your car parked somewhere with a roof. The outside elements can really mess up the process of softening your wiper blades. So, it’s important to take care of this before starting. Otherwise, you may not get the final outcome that you want.
The following steps that you’ll take are definitely sensitive to rain and sunshine. If it’s raining on your wiper blades as you attempt to soften them, then they won’t be able to dry properly. The products you put on the wiper blades may also wash off instead of sticking to your blades. So, it’s important to keep them from getting wet.
Also, sunlight can negatively affect the outcome. When you add petroleum jelly, the sun can cause it to melt. While this isn’t a risk of damaging your wiper blades or windshield, melted petroleum jelly is a lot less effective for protecting your blades because it’ll be thinner and less likely to stick. So, avoid sunlight while applying it.
While petroleum jelly isn’t flammable, that doesn’t mean it’s not at risk of melting. But, you don’t have to worry about the jelly causing issues with overheating and catching fire if applied to your wiper blades.
2. Lift Up the Wiper Blades and Face Them Toward You
You want to have the easiest possible access to your wiper blades without messing. The best way to do this is to lift up your wipers and turn the wipers blades up. This allows them to face you rather than face down.
This gives you more access to reach the blades and see them clearly. Then you aren’t awkwardly struggling to follow the rest of the steps. It also helps you see what you’re working with more clearly and notice any missed spots.
That’s not the only reason we recommend that you face the blades upward toward you. We also suggest this so that you’re less likely to drip anything on your windshield or car. While none of these products that we recommend you use will damage your car, cleaning petroleum jelly off of your windshield can be a bit of a pain. So, avoid it altogether.
3. Check for Damage to the Blades
This step is vital in the process of softening your wiper blades. Make sure you check the bottom of your blades thoroughly for any damage or even small tears. The rubber part of your wiper blades needs to be fully intact to soften them. If they aren’t, then you’re at risk of damaging your windshield.
Take the time to look carefully at both wiper blades to ensure there are no small imperfections like cracks or frays. They can make a big difference. Not only do damaged wiper blades make it more difficult to see in inclement weather, but they can also damage your windshield if left unreplaced.
Damage to your wiper blades can come from harsh sunlight, causing cracks, ice, and snow causing tears, or even just over time wear and tear. If you notice any damage to your wiper blades, make sure you replace them rather than soften them. If you don’t find any issues with your wiper blades, then it’s safe to continue with our steps.
4. Wipe Down the Blade With Vinegar
After checking for any damage, you can move to the first step of softening your blades. Do this by getting a small amount of vinegar on a cloth or paper towels and wiping down both blades. Not only is vinegar great for cleaning rubber, but it also helps to soften the wiper blades.
So, use a clean cloth for both wiper blades, and make sure you do this a few times if needed to get them completely clean. There’s no need to dip or douse your cloth in vinegar as a little bit goes a long way, but using too much won’t hurt your wipers. So, use as much as you feel is right.
5. Follow Up With Water
After applying the vinegar, dampen a cloth with water and wipe down the blades. This will help get rid of any excess vinegar if you use too much. It’ll also help you get the wiper blades fully clean as the vinegar may not have been enough if you used too little.
Do this as many times as it takes for the cloth to come back clean after wiping both blades. You don’t want to leave any excess dirt there for the final steps. It’s important to only dampen the cloth and not soak it because the goal isn’t to wash off the vinegar rather remove the excess. So, only use enough water to slightly dampen the cloth.
6. Dry the Rubber
Now that the excess vinegar has been removed and the cloth that you’re wiping the blades down with is coming back clean, it’s time to dry the blades. Do this with a different cloth altogether. You can use paper towels if you don’t have enough spare towels to use.
It’s important to ensure that both blades are completely dry and there’s no water or vinegar left. So, be thorough in the process of drying to ensure there’s no moisture left. This is another time to ensure that your car isn’t exposed to rain or any moisture because the next step will only be effective if there’s no water.
7. Add Petroleum Jelly to the Blades
The most important step in ensuring that your wiper blades are softer is to apply a generous amount of petroleum jelly to your blades. Only do this step once they’re completely dry so that the jelly can soak into the rubber.
There’s no need to be shy about the amount of petroleum jelly that you use in this step. Be generous with both blades. You want to apply the jelly so that there’s a layer of it left on the rubber of the blades as the jelly will soak into the rubber, making it softer.
In the same way that your skin absorbs petroleum jelly, the wiper blade will do this. The process of adding petroleum jelly to wiper blades will also help keep them from drying out, especially when introduced to harsh elements or direct sunlight.
So, take a decent amount of petroleum jelly on a cloth and wipe both wiper blades down thoroughly. Make sure you leave a layer of the jelly on the blade so that it can soak in the remaining jelly left.
8. Let It Dry for at Least 15 Minutes
This is the part of the process that requires no rain and no direct sunlight because both can negatively affect the process of allowing the petroleum jelly to dry. Leave your wiper blades covered in jelly and allow them to soak in for at least 15 minutes.
If your car is left uncovered during this time, there can be a few issues that may prevent the petroleum jelly from working properly to soften your wiper blades. First, rain can wash the jelly off before it has time to absorb into the rubber and dry. Not only would this mean that the process didn’t work, but it would also be a waste of resources.
Like we discussed earlier, direct sunlight can melt petroleum jelly. So, again the jelly wouldn’t have the proper time to absorb into the rubber and dry. So, it’s vital to ensure your car is under a roof before softening your wiper blades. The blades can be left to dry for as long as you would like. So, if you leave them overnight, they’re fine as long as they’re protected.
9. Put the Wiper Blades Back Down and Use Them
Once the wiper blades have had time to dry, it’s safe to put them back down on your windshield. When you do, you should notice a difference in how your wiper blades act. For example, if they previously skipped or made scratching sounds, those should be gone after softening them.
If those issues that led you to soften your blades aren’t gone, then it may be time to replace the wipers. However, most issues with wiper blades that don’t have scratches or cracks in them will see those issues resolved after softening the blades.
Final Thoughts on Softening Wiper Blades
Softening wiper blades is a good trick to know to help your blades last longer, especially in more extreme conditions. Hopefully, the steps above helped you get your wiper blades soft again and stop any annoying issues you may be experiencing. Remember that a soft wiper blade is an effective one.
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